Ed Bilodeau

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This weblog had moved: http://www.coolweblog.com/bilodeau/

# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)

Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.

Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A student's right to anonymity and open learning environments : For those of you who didn't follow the comments on my recent post regarding open learning environments, later on in the thread I raised the issue of student anonymity. At least at McGill, students have a right to remain anonymous, as per the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook:
31 No personal information shall be disclosed by the University to a third party in a manner which permits the identification of the student or former student unless such disclosure is required by law, or unless the protection afforded by this section has been waived expressly or by implication by the student or former student who is entitled to it. Upon request by the student or former student, the Committee on Student Grievances may determine whether disclosure is authorized under this section.
This impacts courses that use public tools and open learning environments. This includes, but is not limited to, weblogs, wikis, discussion boards, aggregators. Courses where the student is required as part of the course to participate in such a way that their identity revealed are likely to be in violation of this policy.

Instructors can respect the policy by having the students sign a form giving explicit permission for their identity to be made public. Students would, of course, have the right to refuse, and the instructor would have to respect their choice. This could be a problem if the open learning environment is a central part of the learning process. Furthermore, if the student's evaluation is dependant upon such participation, the situation will be further complicated.

I've noticed a number of teachers using public tools (Blogger, Bloglines, etc) are part of their courses. I wonder if they have considered these issues, or if their students have raised any concerns related to this?


The likely reaction would be click-through disclaimers, but I don't think that's the best solution. Rather, instructors could simply suggest that the students use nicknames. I doubt there'd be an issue with that - esp with a disclaimer that using a nickname that can be tracked to a real name is the student's own responsibility.

Students would have to disclose their real name to the professor, but that doesn't contravene the rule (obviously).

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